As I type these words, I realize the title of this could be “on the last first day of elementary school” and I won’t deny that it’s difficult to grasp this reality. Wasn’t it yesterday that we stood in the line to go into your primary classroom?
Just last week, we shopped for new clothes together. It was fun to let you choose all your own gear and listen as you described your “style”, which – for the record – at 11, you say is “hoodies and cool pants”. My heart broke a little as we jumped from the Youth section to the Men’s section, and just a little more as we picked up a men’s sized hoodie.
As we piled more and more of your picks into my arms, I was happy to throw out the budget I told you to stick to because, frankly, I’m just excited you didn’t choose the tie dye sweatpants.
Over the past six years, you have grown (and my gosh, how you’ve grown!) and matured into an incredible person. You’re as stubborn (or perhaps even more stubborn) as you were on your first day, and every bit as compassionate and curious and openhearted.
You’ve worked so hard and overcome big challenges these past years and, while I’d love to be able to make those go away the truth is that bigger challenges lie ahead. And you won’t face them alone.
The year we leave behind was full of changes and new beginnings and the year ahead will be, too. I send you off to your final first day of elementary school filled with admiration for the way you welcome the new with excitement and a smile.
For your last year of elementary, I have six simple wishes:
- Have fun.
- Be yourself.
- Don’t hold back.
- Trust your instincts.
- Tell me where you’re going after school, for the love of all things holy.
- Soak up every little bit.
Last year, I got to walk you to the school on your first day. This year, I wasn’t sure you’d let me but you said “sure”. We hung behind and, before long, you had taken off – without a look over your shoulder – deep in discussion with your friends. With a pang of sadness, I stood on the sidewalk and watched you go on without a goodbye. Six years of helping you find your footing culminated in this day and my tears are as much for pride as they are for the longing when you wanted me to hold your hand.
But know this: even as your hands grow bigger than mine, even as you grow taller than me, even as you become more independent and stretch your wings further, you’ll always be my baby and I’ll always be holding your hand in my heart.
Enjoy your year as the “big kid on campus”, bud.